Gregono

Gregono's Eye up close

(Click the picture to enlarge)
Gregono's eye pod is near to the centre of the picture and the front of his jaw is to the left top of the picture. A humpbacks eye pods protrude out from each side of the body. Their vision is oriented forward and downwards which is why they often roll-up or roll-over to get a better view of you!

We received a radio call from Tasman Venture, one of the Hervey Bay day trip boats, late on the afternoon of the 10th August 1995. They asked if we would mind moving towards their position to attract the attention of a young whale that would not leave them alone. It was time for them to return to Urangan Boat Harbour.

We obliged and began easing slowly towards Tasman Venture. Eventually the young whale decided to switch its attention to our expedition vessel and moved towards us allowing them to start their engines and move slowly away from the area.

Thats how we met Gregono!

The close-up (Photo left) of Gregono's eye was taken by Trish as he rolled up to have a good look at all on board Karma.

She recalls that as she looked into the camera lens Gregono's eye appeared to be bright blue. We have read reports that Humpbacks eyes are brown so it may have been the reflection of the ocean in his eye.

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O nce he settled down Gregono spent much of the time lying belly-up alongside the ship as the above sequence of three photographs show. This made it easy for us to verify, and confirm with photographs, that he was in fact a young sub-adult male. During the thirty six minutes Gregono spent with us there were no other whales in sight. So like the many young sub-adults we encountern in Hervey Bay (See Slaphappy, and Ropey for example) he seemed to be alone. However the other members of his pod were not likely to be too far away.

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Sub-adults like Gregono are curious about the people watching them from the Expedition vessel. Here makes a gentle headrise alongside the ship.
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Brothers Gregory and Jonathon Harris (above) named Gregono using a combination of their own names. Naming the Whales is an important part of our research.
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Gregono shows off with a feisty pass bythe Expedition vessel.
Naming Whales is an important part of our research. We use a 'Mnemonic Naming System'('mnemonic' simply means something intended to help the memory) usually selecting some distinct physical feature or behaviour of the whale as the basis of a name or even something memorable about the circumstances of the meeting with the whale. The day we met Gregono happened to be the birthday of Gregory Harris who was on board for the week with his Mother Pam, and his brother Jonathon. His birthday wish at breakfast was that he would get to see a special whale really close during the day.

As things turned out it was a very slow day and our first meeting with a whale was well after lunch and it decided to travel away and not come near us! So until the call from Tasman Venture came it was looking as if Gregory's birthday wish may not be fulfilled. The visit from Gregono changed all that and Gregory and Jonathon had the most exciting encounter of their lives and a day none of us who were with them will ever forget.

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Although we did not get a photograph of Gregono's Fluke the pictures of his left and right dorsal (Click the pictures to enlarge) together with the close-ups of his upper body means we will certainly be able to identify him next time we meet. The lovely silhouette of his dorsal fin was our last glimpse of Gregono as he moved off into the late afternoon sun.

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Lisa Frickman, Chayla Hlinka, Diane Atherton, Micaela Catanese, Emilio Achar, Dirk Jacobz, Stuart Helleren.


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